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Gardening projects bring people together

At Brandon, we always enjoy hearing how people we support are making the most of their outside spaces and getting stuck into some green-fingered activities.

In celebration of this year’s National Gardening Week (2 – 8 May), we caught up with some of our allotment and garden projects to discover how they benefit and bring joy to everyone.

A special sensory garden

water feature in the sensory gardenBarrantynes is a supported living residence in Oxfordshire. A couple of years ago, a big project began to transform the outdoor space into a sensory garden. As part of this, the team wanted to install a water feature for the calming sounds it would bring, and to attract more birds.

The families of the people supported at Barrantynes like to get involved and are well-connected within the local community. They spoke with a nearby charity group about their plans for a water feature and were delighted to receive a generous donation to help fund it.

The residents love spending time in the new sensory garden and taking in the lights, sounds, and array of plants and flowers. In the summer, they spend a lot of time out there and it was especially valuable during lockdown when they couldn’t go out and enjoy their usual activities.

The water feature was the perfect finishing touch to make the garden a relaxing and stimulating space for the people we support and their families to enjoy together.

London allotment project

Josie and Charles harvesting rhubarbTowards the end of last season, the allotment team began working on a much-needed makeover, which is now nearing completion. The new greenhouse is in place along with the shed, making a big improvement to the site.

Meeting earlier this year, the team discussed what they wanted to grow this season. There were the usual staples, and some suggestions that unfortunately, would have needed a more tropical climate than that found in Anerley SE20.

On the first day of the 2022 season, people supported by Brandon in the London area and their supporters, Blossom, the area administrator, and Yvonne, our new acting director of people and organisational development – who came all the way from South Wales – arrived ready to get stuck in.

The sun shone for the volunteers as they tidied, weeded, sewed seeds, mowed, strimmed, watered and enjoyed a sociable lunch. There were a lot of laughs and there was no going home empty-handed – there was plenty of rhubarb to share.

The site looks so much better for their hard work, and everyone was proud of what they had achieved.

New friendships and connections

Yvonne at the London allotmentSharing her experiences of the day, Yvonne told us:

“I am now a keen gardener (a recently discovered lockdown passion), and I loved getting my hands dirty again as I weeded and assisted planting some carrots.

“The best part, however, was meeting the people supported by Brandon. The allotment project provides opportunities for people to come together, and it was lovely to see them introducing themselves and chatting to each other throughout the day; making new friendships and connections.

“The day left me feeling re-energised and motivated to face the rest of my working week and reminded me why I am in my role.”

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